It used to be that, as an author, I could donate my writings and related materials to my alma mater and deduct the appraised value that objective experts assessed their worth to be. Artists and authors have Richard Nixon to thank for the punitive tax law that now allows them to deduct only the value of the paper their work is written or printed on if they donate it to a charitable organization. Collectors can deduct the far greater value of the work itself if it is donated to a tax-exempt museum or library or foundation.

Tricky Dick deducted from his taxes the value of his donated public papers, along with his private ones. When that fact became public, the IRS Code was changed to permit donors to deduct only the value of the paper. They threw the baby out with the bath. Instead of prohibiting deductions for public papers, the true value of private papers also was barred from qualifying for the deduction.

Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.) have introduced H.R. 1126, which corrects this injustice. The bill gives artists and writers the right to deduct the true value of their work if it is donated to a tax-exempt organization. Museums and libraries all support the bill. All people should. Artists and authors needn’t suffer because Mr. Nixon cheated.


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